The changing of the guards in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commenced yesterday in the 2014 Gatorade Rookie Draft, with Fil-Am Stanley Pringle, the consensus No. 1 pick for Globalport, leading a steady stream of mostly playmakers, slashers and shooters looking to steal some of the thunder from the resident stars when the 40th season unfolds in October.
Globalport and Pringle put to rest weeks of speculation surrounding the player’s asking price when PBA commissioner Chito Salud opened the annual draft at Robinson’s Place in Ermita by calling Pringle onstage where he was warmly welcomed by Batang Pier team owner Mikee Romero, Alternate Governor Erick Arejola and coach Pido Jarencio.
Rain or Shine, perhaps laying the groundwork for a post-Paul Lee era, picked next, ignoring the next Fil-foreign player available and going for Letran’s Kevin Alas, the younger of two playing sons of Alaska Aces assistant Louie Alas.
The elder Alas confirmed reports before the draft started that plans were afoot to bring his son over to Talk ’N Text via NLEX in a deal involving TNT’s Ryan Reyes and Rob Reyes, but said he wouldn’t be less happier if Rain or Shine grabs him.
“Marami siyang matututuhan kay coach Yeng,” Alas said.
Asked how his son would deal with Guiao’s penchant for colorful language, Alas said laughing: “Okey lang yon. Sanay na sa’kin yung anak ko.”
Barako Bull provided the draft’s first detour, trading the third pick to San Miguel Beer for Chico Lanete, Jojo Duncil and two future drafts. The Beermen then snatched San Sebastian’s Ronald Pascual, one-third of the so-called Pinatubo Trio of Ian Sangalang (San Mig Coffee) and Calvin Abueva (Alaska).
“We only have one shooter at San Miguel and that’s Marcio [Lassiter], and Ronald Pascual is known as a shooter; that’s the main consideration for choosing him,” said SMB governor Robert Non.
The rest of the first round moved along with hardly a ripple, with the two major blast from the packed crowd lining up the four-story balcony directed at 6-foot-5 forward John Rodney Brondial, took in by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with the sixth pick, and a man who wasn’t there – a 5-foot-6 point guard from General Santos City named Emmanuel Pacquiao.
Already named coach of newcomer Kia Sorento, Pacquiao applied for drafting in compliance to PBA rules in order to suit up like two other playing-coaches before him – Robert Jaworski with Ginebra and Ramon Fernandez with Purefoods.
But the much-anticipated appearance with close to 90 PBA wannabes didn’t materialize as the eight-division world boxing champion had reportedly already left for Macau as part of his commitment for a promotional tour to drum up his forthcoming fight with American Chris Algieri in November.
Nonetheless, the entire Kia team, led by alternate Governor Ginia Domingo, strode to the stage after Pacquiao’s name was called with the 11th pick overall and was roundly applauded by fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of the ring icon.
“With 12 teams now, this place may be too small for us,” said incoming PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text. “But honestly, I feel there were no surprises. The top players were drafted right away.”
Completing the first round are pony-tailed Matthew Ganuelas Rosser (No. 4 NLEX), poster boy Chris Banchero (No. 5 Alaska), Anthony Semerad (No. 7 Globalport in a trade with San Mig Coffee), Jake Pascual (No. 8 Barako Bull), Jericho Cruz (No. 9 Rain or Shine), David Semerad, Anthony’s twin brother (No. 10 Barako Bull), and Juan Miguel Tiongson of Ateneo (No. 12 Blackwater Sports).
Outgoing chairman Ramon Segismundo of the Meralco Bolts. longtime PBA supporter and former Pasig Mayor Raymundo and the late San Miguel governor Ely Capacio were honored before the event.
Meanwhile, Salud offered to arbitrate the growing impasse between ROS and Lee “should the two parties fail to reach a mutually acceptable resolution” to the deadlock triggered by Lee’s reported demand to be traded.
“The least Paul could do is tell us why he wants out, if that’s really what he wants,” said Guiao.
Salud agrees, in one of the rare times the two men are on the same page.
“The monetary consideration is already out; it’s not a factor anymore,” said Salud, who didn’t reference Lee but apparently leaned towards that direction when he sternly added: “A player cannot just be whimsical and capricious; the fans would want to know why.”
Salud also warned that “the PBA will not be held hostage by people who breach league rules. Anybody who does that is guilty of tampering. And even if the player’s contract has expired, the right of first refusal is sacred with the mother team. And in this case, Rain or Shine has also offered the maximum salary.”